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poverty

Alex Kotlowitz argues in this weekend's New York Times that schools alone can't improve the lives of poor children. He says we need to demand the best from our teachers, but we also need to "grapple with the forces that bear down on the lives of their students" before we can close the economic divide.

Earlier this week, libertarian author Charles Murray argued that marriage is the cornerstone of any successful society. New census data suggests that he might be onto something. In 2011, families headed by single mothers were four times more likely than married-couple families to be poor.

Update: Census poverty numbers not horrible, just bad

Sep 12, 2012

The Census Bureau shared better than expected news this morning.

The Bureau released the numbers on how many Americans lived in poverty last year. It was expected these numbers would show more people live in poverty now than in the 1960s.

Michael Newman / flickr

Tomorrow the Census Bureau will release estimates on how many Americans were living in poverty during 2011. Back in July there were stories about how this report is likely to be seriously depressing.

Who decides which child health concerns matter most?

Aug 21, 2012
insipidlife / flickr

Doctors and public health professionals certainly have a lot to say about children's health, and parent's do too. But how do these concerns translate into policies or programs tasked with doing something to make kids healthier? Well-that's more of a free for all.

Every year, the University of Michigan's C. S. Mott Children's Hospital does a survey on childhood health concerns. They ask adults, both parents and non-parents alike, to state their health concerns for the children in their community. This year, lack of exercise was number one on the list of top-ten child health concerns.  Obesity and smoking rounded out the top three health concerns for kids.

But do these adults really know what the concerns for kids are? Certainly, there are a lot of kids who are not exercising regularly? About 50% of kids in Michigan do not exercise regularly, according to Kids Count, making it partly responsible for the rise in obesity (which stands around 30% for kids in the state). A lack of healthy food or even just eating school lunches are also partly to blame for obesity.

Paul Tough writes in this weekend's New York Times Magazine that President Obama hasn't exactly followed through on candidate Obama's plans for comprehensive, long-term programs to lift children out of poverty. Instead, Tough writes, Obama's administration has worked on poverty in "relatively small and uncoordinated ways."

U.S. poverty could soon top 1965 rate

Jul 23, 2012

The Associated Press is reporting that when census numbers come out this fall, poverty in America will be at its highest rate in close to 50 years. In 2010 the census found 15.1 percent of people in America were living below the poverty line-that's about 1 in 7 people.

user Seattleye / Flickr

Right now, nearly a quarter of all kids in Michigan live in poverty. We want to believe these kids will have an equal shot at success in life, but there’s a pile of research that suggests otherwise.

So, how is life different for kids growing up in poverty?

Let’s try to imagine the life of a child. We’ll call him Jacob.

What is the State of Opportunity project?

Jul 2, 2012

Michigan was once the epicenter of economic opportunity. Here, a person could move out of poverty and into the middle class simply by getting a job on the assembly line. Millions of people did just that.

But today, the path out of poverty seems narrow in Michigan. And the outlook for the next generation can look downright scary.

Here is what we know:

Nearly one out of four children in Michigan lives in poverty. The disadvantages these kids face start piling up before they’re even born. Pregnant mothers living in poverty are less likely to get good prenatal care, and more likely to have negative birth outcomes, such as low birth weight or early delivery. When their children are born, it’s less likely they’ll have the time or the resources for development activities such as reading. By the time these kids enter kindergarten, they’re already far behind their middle and upper class peers. And the gap only gets worse with time.

It's a core belief in America that every child should have the opportunity to succeed, no matter where they live or how much money is in their parents' bank account.

But the brutal truth is 42 percent of children raised in poverty stay in poverty as adults. Among those who make it out, most don’t make it very far.

So how do we break the cycle? That’s what this new project is all about.

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